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SHOULD CONGRESSIONAL TERMS BE LIMITED?
For many years, there has been a heated debate on whether or not Congressional terms should be limited. A constitutional amendment has been proposed several times in Congress and has not passed. Twenty-two States passed their own laws to restrict congressional terms that their representatives can serve. Yet in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that bylaw, states may not limit how long members of Congress can serve as a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate. The 5-4 ruling only affected the states'restrictions on Congressional terms, and not the states' restrictions on their state legislators.
Although this was almost 5 years, ago, the debate on whether or not to have Congressional terms continues. In 1996, 14 states decided to indicate on future ballots those legislatures that favored or were against the congressional term limit. This was an attempt to force members on Congress to listen to their people or else they might not get elected. Again in 1997, the House rejected an amendment attempting to limit Congressional terms. The amendment needed 290 votes in the house to pass, but only received 211 (Washington Post 1997, p. M05).
I don't think that there should be a limit on Congressional terms. This paper will analyze the opinions of those who are against limiting Congressional terms, the opinions of those who favor it and my opinions on the issue as well as my reasoning.
Arguments of Those Against Limiting Congressional Terms
The Supreme Court Justices who ruled that states should not be able to limit Congressional terms gave several reasons of why they felt that the terms should not be limited. Those that were in favor of this ruling were Justice Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Bryer. They looked back 200 years ago and determined that the framers of the Constitution "wanted the people to be free to pick their lawmakers through frequent elections rather than limit who can serve through rules and restrictions," (Savage 1995, p.1). The delegates who met in Philadelphia to write the Constitution were not in favor of limiting Congressional terms. James Madison stated, "Better to have veteran lawmakers who will be thoroughly masters of the public business than to require a steady procession of fresh faces," (Savage 1995, p.1). The framers hoped that by creating minimal qualifications, this would allow the people to replace their lawmakers is desired.
James Madison advocated minimal requirements for eligibility was his commitment to democracy (Greenburg 1995, p.A18). He reasoned that if a representative failed to uphold their promises and duties, that they would
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Greenburg, Justice Clarence Thomas, Varner, James Madison, Becky Cain, Savage, Anthony Kennedy, Abdullah, Shareef, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, David G., John Paul Stevens, Bill,
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Congress, Supreme Court Justices, House, Supreme Court, House of Representatives, Senate, September 12,1995, League of Woman’s Voters, Houston Chronicle,
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Los Angeles Times,
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